Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 147 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Water from Shamala Spring in Malimali Community is consistently available and consistently unsafe for drinking. Upon our visit to the spring, our team reported that the spring is plagued by insects and dirty runoff from nearby farms. Once at the spring, one must dip their entire container into the spring’s reservoir puddle to fill it up, adding whatever contaminants were on the container into the water being collected. And collecting whatever contaminants were already in the water.

The most common causes of death in Malimali are typhoid and malaria, which community members say are directly connected to their water source at Shamala Spring. These sicknesses are not only a big health concern, but they also place a great financial strain on the community members who are trying to pay for treatment and medicine.

"As much as some of us ignore the fact, these typhoid cases are very much from the water we consume and it has cost us a lot financially, mentally, and physically," said Nifreda Matende, a farmer and trader in Malimali.

Knowing their water source is unprotected, community members do their best to make it safer by boiling it, letting it cool, then pouring it through a sieve to strain out large particles of dirt and sand. A lot of time is wasted throughout this lengthy process for every bucket of water collected. The water is then stored in whatever containers are on hand, but the frequency of cleaning out the stored water is concerning. Most households only change out the containers after they notice large particles of algae or other growths in it.

The day of our visit was rather hot as the sun was up early and a lot of cloud cover filled the skies. Getting to Malimali community, one immediately notices the mixture of traditional and modern housing. This suggests the village is on the upward trend of development, but its community members are being held back in part due to the unsafe water they rely on at Shamala Spring.

The village is quiet due to the scattered and unoccupied homesteads during the day, when most residents go to work on their farms. The area is well-vegetated with large farms and enough grass-covered land for children's playgrounds as well as the airing of produce like maize and groundnuts. Most community members are involved in agricultural practices for their livelihoods. Other occupations include small scale businesses like selling in shops or small kiosks, motorbike taxis, and teaching.

Families here are small, though they live as an extended family on the same piece of land. The parents work on different jobs to bring food to the table while the older children are tasked to take care of the home and their younger siblings during the day. People gather together for religious meetings, feasts to celebrate lives lived, and weddings.

Malimali comes to life every day beginning at 6:00 am, and the intensity of the day's schedule varies depending on the day of the week and season. On market days, the area is busiest early in the morning and very late in the evening. On a normal day, the woman in the house, usually the wife, gets up earliest to prepare the meals and do some cleaning. She is also responsible for getting water from the spring for daily activities like bathing and cleaning dishes. Preparing the children for school is also her responsibility.

The men get up later, eat breakfast, and leave to do their various occupations. The rest of the day is usually deserted in most compounds until 3:00 pm when the children come back from school. They help their mothers store away any aired produce, then settle down in groups to play. The women then take charge and prepare dinner as the men either sit in groups for small talk, graze their cattle, or milk the cows.

There are some latrines in Malimali, which are kept as clean as possible since people are cautious to avoid having a rotten wooden floor. There is no water kept nearby to aid in the cleaning or handwashing, but they do sprinkle ash over the opening to keep them clean.

"These toilets of ours are not safe," said Alex Ogada, a farmer in Malimali.

"With the [body]weight some of us possess, we fear that at some point the wood may fail to hold. The toilets themselves can't be washed with water regularly to avoid the boards from rotting. It is a challenge and a risk to use these toilets."

Everyone we talked to during our visit expressed their cry for help to change their water situation. They also offered their support for any effort or help required of them to change their situation.

What we can do:


Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least 2 days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring. One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

Training will result in the formation of a committee that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. They will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Sanitation Platforms

On the final day of training, participants will select 5 families that should benefit from new concrete latrine floors. Training will inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, including bricks, clean sand, and gravel. The 5 families chosen for sanitation platforms must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.

Project Updates

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Malimali Community, Shamala Spring

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

Passing out COVID-19 informational pamphlets

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Malimali, Kenya.

We trained more than 20 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Handwashing demonstration

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

Leaky tin demonstration

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

Learning to use the elbow for coughing and sneezing

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Everyone practiced the 10 steps of handwashing

We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

A community member raises a question while reviewing the prevention reminders chart

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

February, 2020: Malimali Community, Shamala Spring Project Complete!

Malimali Community now has access to clean water! Shamala Spring has been transformed into a gushing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

A young boy enjoying the spring water

Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, including bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, stones, and fencing poles. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.

The Process

Women and men lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, and concrete.

Passing buckets of concrete to form the spring's foundation, bottom right

After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipes - 2 in this case due to the spring's naturally high yield - were fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

Artisan cements the spring headwall

As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipes. This protects the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the headwall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipes.

Community members help pass stones for backfilling as water begins to flow

The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. The community members then erected a fence around the spring box and planted grass over the backfilled area. A cut-off drainage system has also been dug to direct surface runoff away from the spring box.

Planting grass on top of the fenced-in spring box area

The level of participation and work put in by the community here was particularly impressive.

"Shamala spring construction was seen through by the youth. Most of the people were young and they worked well with the artisan to ensure that the spring was well constructed," said the Lead Field Officer for this project, Ian Nakitare.

It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry once all work came to a close.

A woman smiles while easily fetching water at gushing Shamala Spring

As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion. After the protection, the community members could not hold back their joy and even drank water straight from the pipe to show it. They said the water tasted sweeter.

"Insects [in the water] were the order of the day here but now, we speak differently: clear, clean water. On behalf of this community, thank you for taking up the task and helping us. We are so grateful and may you please continue being a blessing to others," said Nifreda Katende, a farmer in the community.

Enjoying a quick cool-off at the spring

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

New sanitation platform owners stand on their completed slab

New Knowledge

Community member Newton Shamala, a local businessperson and landowner of the spring, helped organize the training in coordination with our team. Together we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and expected gatherings. Everyone informed about the training was asked to tell a friend and a neighbor too, trying to reach anyone who consumed water from this spring.

24 people attended training, which was about the number of people we expected since many people simply could not come away from their work or businesses for the day. It was a sunny and calm mid-morning when we arrived. The training was held outside under a tree which provided some good shade. It was a quiet environment with a few scattered bird chirps and overall it was quite conducive to the training.

Training begins with participants seated and facilitators standing in front

Participation was at its peak on either of the extreme ends of the age brackets for those in attendance. The younger kids and the elderly were the most active as opposed to the youth and middle-aged. The elderly asked many questions and the children answered most questions asked by the facilitator.

We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; and the prevention and spread of disease. We also discussed water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

A woman demonstrates toothbrushing during the dental hygiene lesson

In the dental hygiene session, one of the elderly women told the group that there was a traditional herb that one could chew on and it took care of the teeth, even preventing bleeding gums. We got curious and it turned out that the herb was mint leaves - she was right! She said she had been using it since childhood but stopped when all of her mint was eaten by her goats and toothpaste got cheaper anyway.

A girl demonstrates handwashing with the facilitator's help pouring water

The leadership and governance session culminated with the election of the water user committee leadership positions. Almost everyone wanted to be the chairperson of this group, with even a few children wanting to take up the responsibility! On the contrary, no one wanted to be the secretary. This was quite unexpected and it did force a smile on everyone.

"This training has touched on very minor actions that have had really big impacts on people and I know these people have learned and benefited a lot," said Jacob Andanje, a Community Health Volunteer who serves a nearby community but attended training in Malimali.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Malimali Community, Shamala Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Shamala Spring is making people in Malimali sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with news of success!

Project Photos

Project Type

Springs are water sources that come from deep underground, where the water is filtered through natural layers until it is clean enough to drink. Once the water pushes through the surface of the Earth, however, outside elements like waste and runoff can contaminate the water quickly. We protect spring sources from contamination with a simple waterproof cement structure surrounding layers of clay, stone, and soil. This construction channels the spring’s water through a discharge pipe, making water collection easier, faster, and cleaner. Each spring protection also includes a chlorine dispenser at the waterpoint so community members can be assured that the water they are drinking is entirely safe. Learn more here!

Giving Update: Malimali Community, Shamala Spring

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Malimali Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Celestine. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Malimali Community.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Malimali Community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

"Before the project, the water was open and you could just dip in the fetching container and pull up water. This was not very safe because, most of the time, to support yourself, you stepped in the water and made the water dirty."

"Right now, fetching water from the protected spring is very fast and convenient. This has brought a positive impact to me."

"I am free from diseases such as typhoid which had made strong roots in my body. Since we began having clean and safe water, I used medication for the last time and I have never experienced it again."

"The plans that we had were to ensure that we got safe and clean water so as to prevent waterborne diseases, and this has been fulfilled."

Celestine plays with water at the spring.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Malimali Community maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Malimali Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.